Stellar acting, thanks to Marion Cotillard, and gorgeous cinematography are two of many outstanding features of the French film Rust and Bone, debuting at the Toronto International Film Festival.
A love story can devolve into tired cliches and sentimental dialogue, but Rust and Bone shirks the usual props and dives deep into a romantic tale you can't help but adore.
The latest from Jacques Audiard (A Prophet), Rust and Bone begins with Stephanie's life as a killer-whale trainer in Marineland, where she faces a terrible crippling accident. She befriends a bouncer she met at a bar who begins to act as caretaker, friend and then lover. Stephanie, played poignantly by Marion Cotillard (The Dark Knight Rises), is torn between her own self-loathing and her passion to be loved, and to love back.
The bouncer (Matthias Schoenaerts) decides to earn extra money by brawling in back-alley street fights. As a father, he's hoping to provide for his son instead of scavenging for food on trains.
His personality takes on many shades. He's menacing, crass but also considerate, as Stephanie reminds him. Schoenaerts does an excellent job portraying a man beset by violence and tenderness, all at once.
The visual beauty of Rust & Bone is truly breathtaking. Audiard lingers on some scenes just enough to evoke emotions, without a word of dialogue. It could be a sharp glance courtesy of Cotillard, or an errant tooth bloodied by a hard punch. The camera picks up on what the casual eye misses.
Matthias Schoenaerts in the film Rust and Bone
If Cotillard isn't nominated for a Best Actress award, I'm calling shenanigans on the entire Academy. Her performance is bold, compelling and never wavers into the aforementioned cliches. As Cotillard fans have come to expect, she can say a lot with just an expression, a movement, a flinch.
Rust and Bone does feel long at 120 minutes, and several of the supporting characters don't feel fully developed, but those are only small quibbles for a film destined to be winning awards in Europe and across the world.
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